The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 1 - 64

R. Jason Lynch

as domestic and sexual violence, (i) natural or
man-made disasters, and (j) substance abuse
(Lynch, 2017; Silverman & Glick, 2010).

With the rate of students

Whether surviving a catastrophic weather
event, losing a loved one, or experiencing
homelessness, students need the support of
higher education helping professionals and paraprofessionals (Dickey, 2016; Fisher, Cullen,
& Turner, 2000; Silverman & Glick, 2010).
Traditionally, this support would occur within
campus counseling centers, yet reports from
the Center for Collegiate Mental Health (2017)
signify that need is outpacing college counseling centers' ability to serve students. Because
of the potential for a long wait in a counseling center and their proximity and established
relationships with students, resident assistants
(RAs) often find themselves providing firstresponse support and resources for students
experiencing trauma (Canto, Cox, Osborn,
Becker, & Hayden, 2017; Reingle, Thombs,
Osborn, Saffian, & Oltersdorf, 2010; Thombs,
Gonzalez, Osborn, Rossheim, & Suzuki, 2015).

outpacing institutional capacity for

Emerging scholarship has illuminated
the potentially negative impacts that trauma
support work may have on RAs (Stoner, 2017;
Taub, Johnson, & Calhoun, 2016), specifically
the potential for developing secondary traumatic stress (Lynch, 2017; Owens, 2011; Sorenson, 2018). Although research in other helping
professions has identified a number of work
environment factors that may increase the
risk of developing secondary trauma (Hensel,
Ruiz, Finney, & Dewa, 2015), there is a gap in
understanding if these factors hold true for
RAs. The present study addresses this gap by
investigating the following research questions:
How do specific aspects of the RA work envi-

64

reporting a traumatic experience
professional counseling, RAs may
be called upon to manage the needs
of residents experiencing trauma
until they receive professional help.

ronment impact their self-reported symptoms
of secondary traumatic stress, and do specific
types of trauma differentially impact the selfreport of secondary trauma symptoms in RAs?
Through understanding the answers to these
questions, housing leaders and supervisors
may create organizational environments that
better support RAs who respond to students
experiencing trauma.

SECONDARY TRAUMA AND
THE RESIDENT ASSISTANT
Resident assistants have been identified as
paraprofessionals (Koch, 2016; Lynch 2017;
Owens 2011) who often come to the role due
to their desire to give advice, serve as a student
resource, and improve the lives of their peers
(Boone, 2018). Burnout has been well documented as a potential hazard of engaging in
the work asked of RAs (Hardy & Dodd, 1998;
Onofrietti, 2000; Paladino, Murray, Newgent,
& Gohn, 2005; Stoner, 2017; Taub et al., 2016).
Yet scholars in other helping professions have
also identified secondary traumatic stress as
an outcome of trauma support work (Crumpei

THE JOURNAL OF COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT HOUSING



The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 1

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 1

Contents
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 1 - Intro
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 1 - Cover1
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